RSS

103. ‘Freedom,’ Jonathan Franzen…

09 Feb
103. ‘Freedom,’ Jonathan Franzen…
Freedom,’ Jonathan Franzen
.
I had read Jonathan Franzen‘s earlier GAN (Great American Novel™), ‘The Corrections‘, and loved its random, depressing, realistic characters and varied storylines immensely. I had no idea if the much-awaited ‘Freedom‘ would live up to its popular predecessor: luckily for me, it did, whilst displaying the same acute insight into character and relationships.
.
Whereas ‘The Corrections‘ had seemed to me to be more family based, ‘Freedom‘ instead is about the strains of relationships outside of the immediate family sphere, be it romantic or best friend-based. Its content and tone reminded me of Nick Hornby’s excellent ‘Juliet: Naked,’ but whereas the latter deals mainly with the relationship between music and fandom, the weightier ‘Freedom‘ builds around a base of relationships and takes in everything from music to politics to the environment to alcoholism to a million other things.
.

juliet-naked.

(Incidentally, this was the third time in about a week last year that I had read about cats in North America being responsible for the death of billions of cats every year, once from a news report and the other from a fascinating book on humans’ relationships with animals, soon to be reviewed, called ‘Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Kill‘).
.
2013 was the year that mass birdicide was brought to my attention...

2013 was the year that mass birdicide was brought to my attention…

.
There’s an awful lot going on, but yet again Franzen‘s prose is so masterful that you don’t feel overburdened by the plot twists and shifts of viewpoints, much in the same way a masterful movie director makes a three hour film fly by.
.
Here are some of my favourite quotes, to give you an idea of the kind of thing you’re in for if you decide to give the book a try:
.
.
“…the Honorable Joyce Emerson, known for her advocacy of open space, poor children and the Arts. Paradise for Joyce is an open space where poor children can go and do Arts at state expense…”
.
“The first minute of the workday reminds you of all of the other minutes that a day consists of, and it’s never a good thing to think of minutes as individuals…”
.
“America, for Einar, was the land of unSwedish freedom, the place of wide-open spaces where a son could still imagine he was special. But nothing disturbs the feeling of specialness like the presence of other human beings feeling identically special…”
“Right, that’s the advantage of growing up in Minnesota. Everywhere you go now, the weather will be nicer…”

 

Minnesota! (Photo used under Creative Commons license from Wikipedia)

Minnesota!
(Photo used under Creative Commons license from Wikipedia)

.
.
“Tall, ponytailed, absurdly young, pushing a stroller past stripped cars and broken beer bottles and barfed-upon old snow, she might have been carrying all the hours of her day in the string bags that hung from her stroller…”
.
“She was a grave and silent little person with the disconcerting habit of holding your gaze unblinkingly, as if you had nothing in common…”

.

“I’m defending your son,” she said, “Who, in case you haven’t noticed, is not one of the brainless flipflop wearers…”
.
And as if that wasn’t enough anti-flipfloppery, we have this a few chapters later:
.
“‘What don’t you like about them [young people]?” he said.
.
‘Oh, well, where to being?” Patty said. “How about the flipflop thing? I have some issues with their flipflops. It’s like the world is their bedroom…”.
.
Photo used under Creative Commons from                 The Consumerist.

Photo used under Creative Commons from The Consumerist.

.
Possibly the best description ever of why relationships often drag on too long:
.
“…a flutter in his stomach warned him to slow down and be sure he really wanted her back. Warned him not to mistake the pain of losing her for an active desire to have her…”
.
To finish, I give you a quote which summarises the 600-page novel in a single sentence:
.
“Patty had almost gone with Richard, and out of the gratifying fact that she hadn’t – that she’d succumbed to Walter’s love instead – had grown their entire life together, their marriage and their house and their kids…”
.
And all the problems that entails? That’s ‘Freedom‘…
.
freedom-jonathan-franzenfreedomJonathan-franzen-freedom
Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 9, 2014 in BOOKS

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: